One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A North American songbird of the bunting family, typically with brownish plumage but sometimes black and rufous.
Genus Pipilo (and Chlorurus), family Emberizidae (subfamily Emberizinae): several species
- ‘Many birds feed comfortably on a platform, especially the sparrows, juncos, towhees and doves that are referred to as ground feeders.’
- ‘Not only is the Cape flush with cardinals, towhees, mockingbirds, catbirds, goldfinches and woodpeckers, its birds of the shore entice many a visitor here.’
- ‘I can hear the songs of migrating birds: phoebes, white-throated sparrows, towhees, catbirds, chipping sparrows.’
- ‘So, next time you go birding and spot the reddish-brown flanks of a towhee, call it like you see it.’
- ‘Invariably, the winter sparrows head north again to resume their breeding activities, and I am left to enjoy my resident species, such as the spotted towhee, California towhee, scrub jay, and California thrasher.’
Mid 18th century: imitative of the call of Pipilo erythrophthalmus.
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